Pre-DNC Debate Open Thread: The NYTimes Looking to Polish Up Its Anti-Democratic Credentials Tonight

Because twelve candidates, each with their own agenda, is not enough of a fustercluck already:

… [I]n the Trump era, the Times has become one of the most reliable targets of the outrage economy, incurring the wrath of its left-leaning constituency with remarkable frequency. When it’s not being pursued with pitchforks for publishing details about a whistle-blower, or for butchering a headline about Trump and race, or for supposedly being too soft on the president for this or that, surely there’s some radioactive op-ed, or offensive editor’s tweet, or #MeToo controversy that the institution needs to address head-on. It seems clear at this point that the Times is never going to live down Hillary’s emails, or “No Clear Link to Russia,” or the end of the public editor…

[Not that the FTFYNTimes is trying to atone for any of its past errors, of course…]

It is within this tempestuous atmosphere that the Times will cohost, with CNN, the latest grudge match leading up to next year’s Democratic primaries. National editor Marc Lacey will share the moderators’ table with Anderson Cooper and Erin Burnett, with a whopping 12 candidates squaring off at Otterbein University in Westerville, Ohio on Tuesday night. That’s more candidates than have ever shared a single primary debate stage. Three hours, live in prime time. No pressure. “It’s a really big field and a really critical point in the campaign,” one editor told me. “The stakes couldn’t be higher in terms of how the Times comes across.” As another Times journalist put it, “Something will happen, I’m sure, where the angry left blue-check-mark mob will find something to be outraged about.”…

[Step right up, wingnuts, for your latest Bad Faith Concern Troll Show!]

Several sources said it was noteworthy that the Times landed on Lacey as opposed to someone from the politics team, like, say, a Maggie Haberman. The thinking was that, as national editor, Lacey could approach the debate through a different lens—race or unemployment or opioids or any other number of topics. But there’s another way of looking at it. “I think they were smart to shield their high-profile political reporters,” said a veteran Democratic strategist. “Those people have such loaded presences online and in the public conversation, whereas Lacey”—who was a White House correspondent in a gentler era—“is someone who doesn’t really have that baggage.”

[Send in the redshirts, Ken Vogel & Maggie Haberman have a book contract to protect.]

I asked the Democratic strategist what he thinks some of the potential landmines might be come Tuesday night. “What I think angers Democrats is when journalists parrot Republican talking points as their own questions. That’s been a criticism in other debates, and that becomes a real danger, especially for the Times given the hot seat they’re already in,” he said.


I know I’ve said this before, but this debate I may actually, actively avoid watching in real time. There’s only so much my blood pressure medication can handle.

73 replies
  1. 1
    Mike in DC says:

    “And now, the first series of questions about Hunter Biden. Rep. Gabbard, do you think.this disqualifies the vice president to be commander in chief?”

  2. 2
    rikyrah says:

    Greg Sargent (@ThePlumLineGS) Tweeted:

    The head of the association of Democratic state chairs bluntly warns that Trump is badly swamping Dems in the impeachment ad wars.

    “The vast majority of resources being raised is not being spent against Trump right now,” he tells me:

  3. 3
    rikyrah says:

    @Mike in DC:
    Said it before…I would not even answer that question. Turn it around to an attack on Dolt45

  4. 4
    NotMax says:

    There’s a reason boxing doesn’t use a dodecahedronal ring.

    Just sayin’.

  5. 5
  6. 6
    balconesfault says:

    Dang it, both sides!

    The Times has to be true to who they are, deep down at heart.

  7. 7
    Quaker in a Basement says:

    Who is supposedly in the “angry left blue check mark mob”?

  8. 8
    Quaker in a Basement says:

    @Mike in DC:Correct answer: “No. I yield the remainder of my time.”

  9. 9
    piratedan says:

    i expect a boatload of GOP framing about questions and very little about the lawlessness of the current administration and how the GOP aides and abets this process along with the media. I would adore the candidates rejecting this framing en masse and turning the question back on those offering it asking why are these questions being asked in this way when we have a Commander in chief admitting his crimes in public and the media apparently refuses to ask these questions of him and his administration.

  10. 10
    rikyrah says:


    Alex Thompson (@AlxThomp) Tweeted:
    NEW w/ @ec_schneider: Warren bashes 2020 rivals for ‘hobnobbing with the rich and powerful’ and calls on them to release all bundler names/campaign titles, fundraisers dates/places.
    Matches Bernie in pledging to ban corporate $ to DNC next summer.

  11. 11
    Gin & Tonic says:

    I will also be actively avoiding it, in part because of an important municipal meeting, and in part because of the béisbol.

  12. 12
    debbie says:

    NPR’s fighting the NYT for that credential. Just heard Mara Liasson say that Warren’s remark about one man, one woman seemed to imply “deplorables.”

  13. 13
    Mike in NC says:

    Dick Cheney and his shotgun couldn’t force me to watch a debate.

  14. 14
    Mary G says:

    I always watch and wonder why, but it’s nice to have this place to comment along the way. I project a total clusterfuck.

  15. 15
    jl says:

    Domestic policy
    Will taxes go up. Your numbers don’t add up. How will you pay for it. Your numbers don’t add up? Will middle class taxes go up? Your number are short two quarters, one dime and one nickel, who will pay for that? How will our children deal with that crushing debt?

    Foreign policy
    What is your very detailed plan to solve every mess? What if they say no, will you bomb them? If you don’t bomb them isn’t that weak? If that doesn’t work, will you bomb them? If you won’t isn’t that weak? What if they say no, will you bomb them? If you don’t bomb them isn’t that weak?

    Why don’t you two fight?

    You’re party won’t appeal to die hard Trumpster racists eating slop in broken down diners on the upper plains. Isn’t that un-American and you are in disarray?

  16. 16
    kindness says:

    The NY Times does a fine job of screwing Democratic candidates and members of the elected branches just fine. See Hillary Clinton’s e-mails and Donald Trump’s fluffing for all of 2016.

  17. 17
    Chyron HR says:


    Do these stupid pieces of shit seriously not understand that every prominent right-winger up to and including the President of the United States has one of the dreaded Blue Check Marks?

  18. 18
    JPL says:

    @rikyrah: Isn’t it to early to eat our own.

  19. 19
    Immanentize says:

    Yes, but not too early for a nice French Chablis!

  20. 20
    HeleninEire says:

    Not sure if I’ll watch. I HATE the format. 12 is just too many.

    Maybe if I get a few glasses of wine in me.

    ETA: And then ANYTHING can happen. :)

  21. 21
    JPL says:

    @Immanentize: To wash it down with I guess.

  22. 22
    polyorchnid octopunch says:

    Well, they’re polishing something. Not sure it’s their credentials, though.

  23. 23
    Immanentize says:

    Just swirl it around and enjoy a beautiful bit of life!
    While watching your future crumble before your eyes

  24. 24
    jl says:

    Your supporters are frumpy earnest losers, neither the oblivious louche climbers we worship in the style section, nor the ignorant white racists we patronize in our human disinterest community profiles. How can you possibly explain that, and why are you not humiliated? No one likes you.

    What is the point of going on with this charade of a debate if you keep pretending you are not a smug cynical fraud?

    Why don’t you say what I want you to say? If you don’t say what I want you to say, aren’t you refusing to answer the question?

  25. 25

    I’m actually looking forward to the debate. Seeing how Warren does while under attack from left, right, center, and the media will be valuable in choosing who to support. (At least, that’s what I assume will happen.)

  26. 26
    Yutsano says:

    @Immanentize: Sauvignon Blanc please.

    Oh and I might have subtly name dropped you one thread back.

  27. 27

    Too many candidates on the stage mean that much of the time is wasted. I usually follow along on Wonkette.

  28. 28
    Mary G says:

    The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world that the FYFNYT is a liberal publication.

  29. 29

    @jl: You obviously did well in your New York Times-speak course.

    The New York Times is garbage.

  30. 30
    debbie says:


    Heh. Maybe too subtle?

  31. 31
    Aleta says:

    @Immanentize: French chablis … this is painful ! (I’m in a dry town.)

  32. 32
    debbie says:

    You’re all wrong. It will be wall-to-wall Biden scandal mongering.

  33. 33
    Aleta says:

    I predict one part foreign policy questions.

  34. 34
    JPL says:

    @debbie: Ken Vogel’s reputation is at stake. What’s more important the country or Vogel.

  35. 35
    Keith P. says:

    What I think angers Democrats is when journalists parrot Republican talking points as their own questions.

    Hell, Don Lemon had John Kasich on last night to get his analysis of tonight’s Democratic debate. Just Kasich. And Kasich also got to plug his book “How I’ll Fix America’s Conscience” or something.

  36. 36
  37. 37
    debbie says:


    One from Column C, please.

  38. 38
    Aleta says:

    @JPL: If I had to guess, more vague, left to candidate to bring up.
    Syria more likely than Ukraine. China, Iran, NK even more so?

  39. 39
    waspuppet says:

    1) Does the New York Times EVER talk about conservatives this way?

    2) Has it entered their minds that, y’know, this is a DEMOCRATIC debate, and that the questions might want to reflect that?

  40. 40
    Brachiator says:

    How did the MF NYT get to have any part of this debate?

    There. That’s my moment of outrage. On with the show.

  41. 41
    Immanentize says:

    NY Bar? That’s LAO. MA, TX, FL here
    But thank you for expanding my range w/out pain!

  42. 42
    jl says:

    Not falling for my gotcha bait proves you are shifty and not answering my question. How can people trust you?
    How can you explain your inability to heal the country except by surrendering all your principles to the Republican Party, which you need to do in order to be civil by the way?
    If you are not a socialist then you are a neoliberal shill who will continue to oppress the little guy, can you possibly explain that to the voters?

    Suppose Central Asia is the Seven Dwarfs, and the US, after being transformed into Venezuela by your policies is transported to Oz like Dorothy, except her pet is not Toto but Krazy Kat, except rabid. Putin has started talks with the Martian invaders who have already given China death rays. War president test, multiple choice!, A-bombs, WTO regulation Chapter 8, subsection A, clause ii. Yes or No. If your sister’s second cousin’s niece faced the electric chair!

  43. 43
    Yutsano says:

    @Immanentize: Whatever happened to reciprocity?

    Also: How did it get stuck in my brain you were from Noo Yahk when I know you’re from Beantown?

    @jl: Still too comprehensible.

  44. 44
    PsiFighter37 says:

    I’m done watching primary debates until there are 5 people or less on the stage. Until then, F that noise.

  45. 45
    JPL says:

    @PsiFighter37: How’s the little Psifighter

  46. 46
    Patricia Kayden says:

    How to pronounce Democratic candidates’ names.

  47. 47
    jl says:

    The Republican party is full of rakish swindlers and full of amazing frauds absurd fiascoes, sweeping disasters and hilarious blow ups. It’s like soap opera about a circus freak show combined with film noir on acid. And covering the mess like a theater critic helps me understand my corporate office politics. If you can’t adequately apologize to me for not fulfilling my cheap and trashy fantasies, how can the American people vote for you?

    Why won’t you admit policy questions are boring?

  48. 48
    J R in WV says:


    I think Mara Liasson has joined the ranks of the deplorables, years ago, actually.

    We’ve watched several of this cycle’s Democratic debates, which I personally found the questioning focused on right wing tropes and memes. Sad.

    When will there be a Republican debate ??? Not going to be one? SAD!!!!! I wouldn’t watch it, but still sad. I do not plan to watch nor listen to tonight’s debate, as I fully expect the questions to be written by and for the RNC!

  49. 49
    Elizabelle says:

    SO: The FTF Giuliani-fed NY Times pulled this one today: op ed piece:

    Why Are Democrats Jilting G.O.P. Voters Who Want to Like Them?
    Candidates are leaving potential Republican converts without options.

    The bio provided:

    Ericka Andersen (@ErickaAndersen) is a freelance writer in Indianapolis.

    You are thinking, oh, there is more to this. Recall: they snuck the author of “Clinton Cash” in last week, without divulging he had written that, to dump on Hunter Biden and McConnell-Chao (but NOT a single Trump, not a one).

    The photo illustration: a flattering smiling photo of Tulsi Gabbard.

    The lede:

    Under President Trump, a small slice of America’s electorate seeks a reason to call the Democratic Party home for the very first time. But without adequate hospitality to welcome them, they will disappear quickly.

    With a few exceptions on particular policies, the Democratic presidential field neglects abundant pools of potential Democrat converts, leaving persuadable audiences — like independents and Trump-averse, anti-abortion Christians (some of whom are white evangelicals) — without options.

    The exception is Representative Tulsi Gabbard …

    She slags Kamala Harris for being hypocritical, and Pete Buttigieg for being an opportunist. Weirdly, she does not say anything about Elizabeth Warren except including her in some word salad about restrictions on abortion.

    And here’s this sentence:

    These voters also have little interest in an opportunistic Mayor Pete Buttigieg: For years in Indiana politics, he worked “cordially” with Mike Pence, then the governor, but only since becoming a rising star in the Democratic Party has the mayor chosen to demean Mr. Pence’s religious beliefs.

    And: have you guessed? Yes, Ms. Ericka Andersen is no babe in the wood in Indianapolis.

    Tweet from Ryan Gielen:

    Ericka was former digital director for the HOUSE GOP UNDER VP PENCE & writes for The Federalist. She & the @nytimes don’t disclose that until you hit the fine print after the article.** Unreal. NYT your standards are broken. This level of deliberate obfuscation is a disservice.

    ** Maybe it was disclosed in print. That disclosure never appears on the digital version. It is not there now.

    The Times did not open the piece to reader comments.

    The New York Times is garbage.

    Actually, they are not always garbage. But this shit gotta stop.

    The one thing that made me smile: on her twitter feed, Ms. Andersen, 3 hours ago:

    Can I mute all of Twitter somehow? This place is pure insanity.

    Yeah. I bet she got an earful.

  50. 50
    jl says:

    @Elizabelle: Much of NYT straight reporting is important and excellent. The editorial side is self-satisfied hypocritical mediocre (edit: and possibly very corrupt) garbage.

  51. 51

    @jl: The New York Times is Garbage.

  52. 52
    Mary G says:

    O/T, but it’s gotta hurt:

    Scott Rasmussen/HarrisX Poll: Do you support impeachment *and* removal:

    Sept 2 43-47
    Sept 9 42-45
    Sept 16 45-45
    Sept 23 44-41
    Sept 30 46-40
    Today 50-38

    Another poll with rising support not just impeachment, but removal, with support jumping 16 net points since September 2nd.— Josh Jordan (@NumbersMuncher) October 15, 2019

    Rasmussen! Imagine what the real numbers must be. Plus, I bow down before the great and unmatched wisdom of NANCY SMASH! The deranged tweets will be off the charts tonight.

  53. 53
    Elizabelle says:

    @jl: The op ed page editor is Senator Michael Bennet’s brother, right?

    He and his staff actually often put up some really good pieces. But there is this crap, and the fact they have started to obfuscate (thanks Ryan!) their contributors’ background is a flashing red light. That’s twice in one week.

    I do not care for their political reporting WRT covering Democrats. If they get something right, it might be the law of averages.

    I do not feel good about subscribing to the NY Times. I know a lot of you wised up and dropped them ages ago. (That’s why I don’t believe they’re having a subscription surge? Who?? They’re constantly asking us to buy a half-price subscription for school kids, but no way …)

  54. 54
    Mary G says:

    @jl: Except the supposedly straight political reporters.

  55. 55
    Immanentize says:

    I grew up in upstate New York! Semi-rural beginning. Just never practiced my trade there

  56. 56
    Mnemosyne says:


    Since it’s apparently a surge in digital-only subscriptions, I suspect a lot of them are coming from Moscow and St. Petersburg.

  57. 57
    PsiFighter37 says:

    @JPL: She’s doing well! Making us as tired as possible, that’s for sure, though…

  58. 58
    Elizabelle says:

    @Mnemosyne: That’s a strong possibility, isn’t it? I wonder what David Cay Johnson thinks about his former employer.

  59. 59
    JPL says:

    @Elizabelle: Maybe it’s folks like me who were offered digital subscriptions for $4.00 a month. Mine expires in March and I won’t renew, and might cancel before.

  60. 60
    jl says:

    @Elizabelle: Here is my case, in brief. They have an honesty problem in disclosing who is writing their analysis and opinion pieces, and are stingy and misleading in refusing to give credit to organizations that broke stories and that the NYT considers to be below its high station. They showed contempt for their readership by firing their public editor after not being able to find a suitable flunky for the position. Their political reporting is conflated with analysis, and the analysis is unoriginal and biased toward unoriginal corporate media pundit conventional wisdom.

    Their editorial side uses its shiny NYC center of the universe credentials as cover for uneven, mostly mediocre, and sometimes plain dishonest, work, and unethical practices. Even their hire of Krugman is an example, since at the time he had the reputation of being a committed centrist who would be committed to fake balance. Krugman went bad, but his work is so good, they can’t find an excuse to let him go.

  61. 61
    JPL says:

    @PsiFighter37: It’s their job.

  62. 62
    mrmoshpotato says:


    It’s like soap opera about a circus freak show combined with film noir on acid.


  63. 63
    Elizabelle says:

    @jl: Agree with all your points.

    They have a few (very few) good opinion columnists (Michelle Goldberg, etc.), but give way too much space to bad ones whose essays and arguments or analysis do not hold up. (Bobo, of course, and I am grateful Bret Bedbug Stephens acted up so badly so I can easily remember which is the good Bret — Bret Staples — and which is the bad one).

    I blame the Sulzbergers.

  64. 64
    Elizabelle says:

    Le sigh. I can watch the debate on NY Times website. No CNN or TV, so thought I would have an excuse to miss.

    Which Republican-framed question will be the first to make me flee the whole program?

  65. 65
    Aleta says:

    @Elizabelle: I just tuned in to public radio so I can at least listen.

  66. 66
    mrmoshpotato says:

    @Elizabelle: Try my excuse for not watching the shitshow – just not watching it. 😁

  67. 67
    Ksmiami says:

    @rikyrah: why- just win first then make changes

  68. 68
    Elizabelle says:

    New thread up.

  69. 69
    Uncle Cosmo says:

    @J R in WV:

    I think Mar-a-LiarsPawn has joined the ranks of the despicables, years ago, actually.


    Fuck her with a rusty chainsaw.

  70. 70
    Zelma says:

    I’m gonna watch the Nationals. Washington deserves something for putting up with Drump for three years. NYT keeps reminding me that I”ve been a subscriber for 12 years. May not make it to 13. A lot depends on tonight’s performance.

  71. 71
    West of the Cascades says:

    @Elizabelle: The NY Times website has commentary that is so savvy. Not visible in full-screen mode. But I don’t want to see the candidates (or Anderson Cooper) that large. Minimizing the window and listening to just the audio seems to work OK.

  72. 72
    MisterForkbeard says:

    @rikyrah: Ugh. Not the time, Warren. >_<

  73. 73
    Raven says:

    @Gin & Tonic: There is no game

Comments are closed.